NIAGARA LODGE HOLDS OPEN HOUSE
The oldest and most historic Masonic Lodge in Upper Canada will open its doors to the public April 26 for a tour and refreshments following a divine service at St. Marks Church.
Niagara Lodge No. 2 will host the District Divine Service with a full dress parade from the King Street Lodge to the Byron Street Church at 2.30 this Sunday.
Over 200 members and their families are expected to attend with District Chaplain Hugh Maclean, former rector of St. Marks, returning to Niagara to conduct the service.
Honored guests will include Lord Mayor Wilbert Dick and the Grand Master of Ontario, N. Richard Richards who will read the lesson with Stan Welstaed, district deputy also taking part in the service along with the present rector Rev. David Thomas.
Following the service, visitors will have the opportunity to visit the completely renovated Lodge, the Bicentennial project for the members.
Many hours of work have gone into the historic building which traces its history back to 1816 when the building was constructed on the same lot as the original Lodge with stones from the ruins of the Town. Many of the timbers were salvaged from the burning of Niagara and the "Stone barracks" as it was then known was used by the army up to 1840.
The limestone building became 'home' for Masonic Lodge No. 2 in 1860 and prior to that time was used as a hotel, school and dancing academy.
The first major renovation by the Masons was carried out in 1911 with the present changes started by the members in 1977.
The Lodge members raised $20,000 with volunteers devoting many hours of labor with assistance from town craftsmen as the building received a major facelift.
"We couldn't have done it without their help," a spokesman for the Masons told the Advance, paying tribute to the many hours of work by the volunteers.
New oatmeal colored drapes adorn the windows with the Masonic colors of blue and gold dominating the rooms. A main floor kitchen, washrooms and cupboards have been added and the banquet room has been enlarged to hold up to 150 persons.
Chandeliers from the 1840 era are decorated with the masonic symbol and the main staircase has been stripped down to the original pine.
During the renovations, the Masons found many valuable artifacts which will be added to the museum room on the second floor. Glass cases display many unusual items including a Mason's apron, hand painted on silk which dates to the early 1800's.
The main meeting room with two beautiful Victorian secretaries' desks circa 1860 has been refurbished with new carpeting added around the border of the room.
A small library has been completely renovated by the members and a number of items of historic interest have been preserved under plexiglass. Included are a section of the original hand split lathe dating back to 1840 and hand painted Lodge symbols found when the wall was washed.
Many of the books date back to the early 1800's and as the basement area with its original foundation and fireplaces is renovated more and more treasures are turning up.
A fresh coat of paint for the exterior of the building completed this ambitious project and members of Niagara Lodge No. 2 are looking forward to the official opening this Sunday.